An insurance underwriter is tasked with accepting or turning down applications for insurance covers. They usually work in different banking and insurance departments. For the latter, their services are mainly witnessed in life assurance, commercial insurance, general insurance, and reinsurance departments.
Like every other profession, you will have to turn in your job application to work as an insurance underwriter. The leading employers in search of these professionals are insurance firms and other companies dealing with related issues.
Once your application has been approved, you have to appear before an interview panel. To give you an upper hand, we will look at some of the questions to expect during your interview. These will cover your experience, skills, and technical aspects needed for this role.
Let us look at the following:
1. Why Are You Interested in This Position?
Different reasons push people to apply for positions. Whereas a need for a career upgrade fuels some decisions, some are driven by passion. To answer this question well, desist from giving a material reason and focus more on selling yourself.
I am an experienced underwriter with eight years of experience. I love helping companies handle insurance claims and assess risks. I have been keeping tabs on your organization for some time, and I am impressed by your performance over the last three years and your work policies. I would therefore like to be part of this fantastic creation by offering my services and vast expertise. I am optimistic that my efforts will propel this company to even higher standards.
2. What Are the Roles of an Insurance Underwriter?
Every position/job has a job description. This usually dictates the roles and responsibilities of those holding them. You need to convince the interviewer that you understand what they expect you to do in the firm, either by referring to the job description or mentioning your roles in your previous workplace.
An insurance underwriter is mandated with:
- Examining insurance proposals and conducting a risk assessment.
- Analyzing statistical data using different programs.
- Negotiating with brokers and clients as well as writing codes.
- Determining the payable premiums and policy wordings.
- Coming up with insurance policy terms and conditions.
3. What Are the Qualities That an Insurance Underwriter Needs to Be Effective?
What makes one a good insurance underwriter? When answering this question, ensure that you mention qualities that have seen you flourish in your career as an underwriter. Everything should relate to the role.
An insurance underwriter needs excellent analytical skills to solve complex problems. He/ she must also be a good decision-maker. Other qualities include excellent interpersonal skills, impressive Math skills, and detail orientation. (You can mention as many attributes as you want. Just make sure that you can explain more about them when asked)
4. Mention a Challenge That You Faced During Your Last Role and How You Managed It?
This is a question that seeks to reveal if you are a problem solver. What would you do when faced with an issue? Cry and get frustrated or look for a solution? Your experience should clearly illustrate your problem-solving ability.
Before I joined my former workplace, I was an underwriter for a small company. We dealt with a small volume of claims and therefore experienced little job pressure. However, everything changed when I joined left. There was intense pressure from the bosses and a large volume of claims. I was almost falling behind on deadlines. I decided to strategize on how to handle all my work. I worked on prioritizing workload and also improved my multi-tasking skills, which saw me through.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine
What do you do daily as an underwriter? This is a question that seeks to reveal your experience in this field. Convince the interviewer that you can handle a heavy workload by describing a packed day.
I report to work early and plan my day. I then go through my emails and voicemails and answer the most urgent. The rest of my day is then spent receiving insurance applications and determining the degrees of risk of the applicants, reviewing company records to determine the premiums, wording the policies, and reporting to the necessary departments. I may also attend board meetings depending on the schedule.
6. Briefly Describe Your Experience
Where you have worked and your roles in these places are documented in your resume and CV. Therefore, this question does not want you to reiterate your CV or resume but give an overview. Save yourself and the panel some time by being brief. However, do not leave out important information.
This is my tenth year in this field. I have worked in different departments within the insurance industry. Shortly after finishing college, I joined Brown insurance agency and was posted in their sales and marketing department as an insurance agent. My work was to bring in potential clients and make known the firm’s offerings. I then joined the risk department, where I was part of the risk assessment team. I become an underwriter shortly afterward. I have led different teams in my former workplaces, as captured in my CV and at one point held an interim management role.
7. Mention the Strategy and Mindset Needed for This Role?
The interviewer wants to know the strategies and perspectives that help you stay on top of your game. Remember that whatever you mention should be role-specific and come in handy in actual practice.
A strategy that comes in handy in this field is collaborative working. An underwriter must liaise with other departments within the insurance industry to assess risks and execute most of his/ her roles. Teamwork also fosters accuracy and helps achieve better results. As for the right mindset, one needs to be focused and thorough. Focus helps in avoiding small mistakes which may be costly in the end.
8. Mention a Challenge That You Foresee in This Role
The interviewer wants to know some of the areas that may prove troublesome once you join the organization. You need to be honest since your answer may help them better the workplace for you if given the role. However, be careful not to look incompetent or an underperformer.
Most of the challenges that I have dealt with in this field are similar regardless of the workplace. I cannot, therefore, pinpoint a distinct challenge at the moment. However, I will be happy to point out any in my first few weeks here if I land this job.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated in This Role?
This is another way of enquiring about what keeps you going. Where do you draw your motivation from? When answering this question, desist from giving material reasons such as money or salary increments.
I love my job. This passion offers me the motivation I need to keep coming to work day in, day out. I also love meeting my goals and smashing deadlines. However, I do not push myself too hard. Whenever I lack the motivation or feel emotionally drained, I take a few minutes to engage in activities that I love, such as filling crosswords or Sudoku, before I resume work.
10. Why Do You Want to Work for Us?
The interviewers want to know whether you will be a good fit in the company based on your answer. Like in the previous question, desist from mentioning material benefits such as their amazing salary range.
I have heard a lot of positive talks about your company. I would love to experience your positive work culture and great environment. I believe that you will better use my skills here.
11. I Believe That You Incorporate Technology in Your Work. Could You Tell Us Some of the Programs That You Have Used in The Recent Past?
This question seeks to partly reveal your previous experience and ascertain your knowledge of some essential programs in this field. Show the interviewer that you are knowledgeable about software that you find compelling.
I have interacted with several software applications. However, I find Applied Epic useful. It makes my work easier by automating a fair share of underwriting processes, giving me an easy time making policy changes and inserting rules.
12. How Do You Stay Abreast of Changes That May Affect Your Job or Projects?
You should always be aware of the legalities and changes that may affect your work and some of the documents under your care. This question tests whether you research information related to your job and stay abreast of quick changes that may need your concern.
I understand that things like legal rulings can change anytime, thus affecting my job. To ensure that I am at par with any of these changes, I use an electronic board that brings up any new update in seconds. I am also part of insurance underwriter groups where we discuss any recent changes.
13. What Do You Rely On When Performing Background Checks on a Client?
This is an operational question that seeks to reveal how you go about your job as an insurance underwriter. Ensure that you describe the process, sources, and tools you use when conducting background checks on potential clients.
I usually use several sources when conducting such background checks. I pay close attention to their score of clients in credit rating services and white pages. Most of the companies I have worked in also invest in background checking apps which helps us properly screen clients.
14. Given The Nature of Your Job, You Definitely Need Multiple Signatures and Approvals from Different Parties. How Do You Ensure That Conflicts That Arise from These Parties Are Resolved?
Questions structured in this manner are operational questions. Here, the interviewer is assessing your negotiation and communication skills. Therefore, you must convince him/ her that you can bring people together to a common understanding through negotiation.
I understand it is easier for disagreements to occur where several parties are involved. Even though I do not experience this most of the time, once or twice I have found myself in situations where stakeholders disagree on some of the elements in an insurance policy. I usually explain to both sides the policy details in as simple terms as possible and then inquire about some of the objections that they may have. After addressing those, I suggest how they can compromise to agree- a method that works magic.
15. How Do You Research and Locate Information Regarding a Client’s Finances?
Like the previous example, this question also seeks to find out how you go about your job. It may also be asked to build a foundation for follow-up questions. Make sure that the interviewer is convinced that you are up to the task in the end.
Gathering detailed and accurate information is one of our most important roles as insurance underwriters. I use several resources whenever I needed to screen a client’s financial background. I usually cross-check with the credit reference bureaus and other financial institutions. If I learn that a client had contracted an insurance company before, I will contact the latter and ask for information. I will make sure that I have leveraged my sources before focusing on the next plan of action.
16. What Are Some of the Reasons Why You Have Denied a Client’s Policy Request?
You must have denied an application in your career as an insurance underwriter. The interviewer wants to know some of the criteria that you use when turning down these applications. Ensure that you show reasonability in your answer.
I approve most of the applications that reach my desk. Those that I turn down usually have lots of questions marks, which convinces me that they are not a reasonable risk. I discover most of these when conducting background checks. A few examples are bad credit, overdue loans, criminal background, and cases of default. Other things that make me disqualify an application are unresolved related court cases and issues with long-term credit advancement.
17. Suppose You Are Not Sure Whether a Risk Is Worth Taking, What Are Some of The Actions That You Would Take?
This may come as a clarification question. All in all, it is an operational question that seeks to understand how you go about your job. Make sure that you answer this tactfully.
I rarely come across such instances. However, whenever I am unsure of a risk, I spare some more time to perform an extensive background check. In my line of work, it is dangerous to make decisions without enough information. At times I reach out to the applicant and ask them to clarify some of the issues to shed more light on them.
18. How Do You Detect Insurance Fraud?
Your work as an underwriter extends to detecting fraud, which is pretty common. The interviewer wants to know whether you understand how this works and are updated on new fraud schemes that may wreck your company. Convince him/ her that you know fraud-related issues.
The insurance industry keeps on recording rising levels of fraud, which have even threatened the jobs of several insurance professionals. I prefer to prevent such cases by performing a thorough background check on any new applications. I am also part of different underwriter groups where we discuss upcoming or recent fraud schemes and come up with techniques to help us solve them.
19. Do You Use Your Intuition to Make Decisions at Times?
This question seeks to reveal more information about how you go about your application approval process. As an underwriter, you need to use facts, experience, and intuition. Be honest but do not show that you rely too much on intuition.
I have dealt with several cases and therefore developed what I would refer to as an extra sense when going through applications. When dealing with applications, I mainly focus on the information I collect from the background checks. However, I can also tell whether a client is viable even as the evaluation progresses. I trust my intuition to help me make decisions where I am not yet convinced, even with enough information.
20. When Are You Ready to Report to Work If Given a Chance?
This is a self-explanatory question. The interviewer wants to know your schedule. Do not ask for an unreasonably long period.
I submitted my resignation letter a month ago. It has since been approved, and I was directed to clear from the workplace this coming week. I am therefore free to start working here anytime from next week if given a chance. However, if it is urgent, I can make plans and squeeze time in the course of next week to begin work.
These are some of the questions that you need to master for a smooth insurance underwriter interview experience. Ensure that you answer the questions confidently and show the interviewer that you are highly skilled and experienced to increase your chances of landing the job.